Rubbish Into Art

4 Sep

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Here’s another cyanotype print done en plein air at Craig-y-Nos last week, on a field trip with colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Lab. My colleague, Steph, picked up a discarded fishing net from the river and arranged it on the photosensitised paper with some fallen leaves and stones picked up from the banks of the River Tawe. It was around midday but heavily overcast so I guesstimated a 20 minute exposure time, which has worked well. It’s a shame that thoughtless people dumped their rubbish into the river, but it’s been recycled into art and the fishing net was disposed of responsibly.

 

The Swansea Devil

3 Sep

 

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I popped down to Swansea Museum today to do some sketching. It’s a lovely museum with loads of interesting stuff to draw and it’s served generations of Swansea people. I sketched the Swansea Devil, a local legend.

 

Two quick sketches to start

Two quick sketches to start ….

 

He was recently rehomed to the Museum because after a chequered history he was in pretty poor condition – he’s made from wood- and the Museum is able to look after him under the controlled conditions he needs.

 

sketch 1

I did a few sketches in Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen and one with walnut ink wash and a brush. Today I wanted to get a feel for the sculpture before I develop some more complex work. I find it difficult to draw other people’s art as I keep wanting to put my stamp on it.

White Leaves And Pooled Corners

2 Sep

 

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Craig-y-Nos

Another one of the cyanotype prints I did at Craig-y-Nos a few days ago. The gardeners had been trimming hedges so I picked up a few leaves and arranged some stones and gravel from the river bank onto the treated paper. It was a very overcast day, around midday, so I guesstimated an exposure time of 20 minutes. When I developed it in cold water, I added a dash of vinegar, which is supposed to increase the contrast. It’s quite a good colour and I like the softness of the leaves. The photo below was taken while I was exposing the cyanotype. I think it’s a nice image in it’s own right.

 

exposure 4

 

Pooling

The dark splodges in the corners came from the initial coating process. The received wisdom is to coat the paper and let them dry on a flat surface, but I found that almost all the sheets of paper had ‘pooled’ at the corners. The previous batch had been hung to dry and the coating was much more even.

 

The FIRE Lab

I am currently artist in residence with The Fire Lab at Swansea University and have been going on field trips with scientific colleagues along the course of The River Tawe. This cyanotype experiment is our latest field trip.

 

 

 

 

Blue Stones

1 Sep

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Brushwork And Gravel

This is another cyanotype from my field trip earlier this week with colleagues from the FIRE Lab. When I prepared this sheet of Bockingford (300gsm) with the cyanotype chemical coating, I tried being a bit freer with the brushwork, instead of applying an even coat in a rectangular shape. And I used gravel from the bank of the River Tawe to make the image, something I hadn’t tried before. I hadn’t realised how varied it is, so many different grades. The name of the river, ‘Tawe’, might share its origins with a group of Celtic river names meaning “to flow”, including Thames, Tame and Tamar.

 

 

Fern And Raindrops

31 Aug

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Sploshed

Here’s another of the cyanotypes done a couple of days ago on a FIRE Lab field trip. I clipped the fern directly onto a piece of Bockingford paper treated with cyanotype chemicals. It was overcast and about midday so I estimated a 20 minute exposure time.

It started to rain and drops sploshed onto the paper.

Exposure 1

The FIRE Lab

I am currently artist in residence with The Fire Lab at Swansea University and have been going on field trips with scientific colleagues along the course of The River Tawe. This cyanotype experiment is our latest field trip.

 

Blue Wash

30 Aug

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Today I developed yesterday’s cyanotypes in the garden shed. Husb has been making the shed, from scratch, for about 3 years now and it’s nearly finished. He’s plumbed in an old Belfast sink which is big and deep enough to easily develop the pictures. I soaked them for 5 minutes under running water, then 20 minutes in a tray of still water with a spot of vinegar in it – apparently it increases the contrast.

 

More tomorrow……

Blue On A Grey Day

29 Aug

exposure 4

Out in the field

A scientist, an artist and a designer walk into a Country Park …… no it’s not a joke, it’s the second cyanotype field trip this week with colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Lab, up to the River Tawe as it runs through Craig-y-Nos. What can I say? It’s a glorious place and I feel so privileged to go out and be an artist in places like this. There’s a castle here as well, built for Dame Adelina Patti, the magnificent opera singer.

 

 

Grey Day

Unlike Monday’s field trip in blazing sunshine, today was rainy, cloudy and grey. We waited for it to dry up a bit and exposed the cyanotypes on the bank of the Tawe en plein air. On Monday I allowed 10 minutes exposure, which worked really well (see here) but today I had to guesstimate and allowed 20 minutes. I’ll develop them tomorrow and we’ll see if I guessed right. We created images of things we found around us, being careful not to damage anything and to put things back.

 

 

Queen Anne’s Lace And A Mixed Bouquet

28 Aug

mixed bouquet

An Important River

Here are a couple more cyanotype prints from my field trip on Monday with my colleague Steph from Swansea University’s FIRE Lab. We walked the River Tawe path from Swansea up to Pontardawe, 15 kilometres. Swansea’s name in Welsh is Abertawe which means Mouth of the River Tawe, and Pontardawe means Bridge over the Tawe, and it’s an important river in these parts.

 

Queen Anne’s Lace

We took a print from a clump of gorgeous Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus Carota) and then a mixed bouquet of wild flowers. We used a ten-minute exposure time en plein air at around 1pm on a very sunny August day and then developed the prints in cold running water. The root of Queen Anne’s Lace smells of carrot and has a very high sugar content, second only to beetroot.

 

The FIRE Lab

I am currently artist in residence with The Fire Lab at Swansea University and have been going on field trips with scientific colleagues along the course of The River Tawe. This cyanotype experiment is our latest field trip.

 

 

 

Teasels And Rubbish

27 Aug

Teazles

 

Day Of Reckoning!

Yesterday was cyanotype exposure day, today was cyanotype developing day – and the day of reckoning! So much can go wrong. Cyanotype was the earliest form of photography, invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842 to copy his notes. Anna Atkins used it to record botanical specimens and produced the first photographic book in 1843 using cyanotype. It was quickly superseded by other more reliable forms of photography but was still used to produce blueprints for engineers. Nowadays it’s very popular in fine art printmaking and alternative photography.

 

En Plein Air

Here are a couple of the ones I developed today alongside photos of them being done en plein air. The first is a Teasel, an ancient plant that used to be used in woollen textile manufacture and their seeds are a favourite food of the European Goldfinch. The second is some rubbish we picked up on our walk.

The FIRE Lab

I am currently artist in residence with The Fire Lab at Swansea University and have been going on field trips with scientific colleagues along the course of The River Tawe. This cyanotype experiment is our latest field trip.

 

 

 

Boiling Hot And Blue Prints

26 Aug

 

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I went on a field trip alongside the River Tawe today, from Sainsburys in Swansea to Tescos in Pontardawe, about 15 kilometres. It was BOILING hot. My colleague Steph and I did some experimental cyanotype (blue prints) exposures on the way, working with plants at the side of the path, rubbish we picked up and even shadows on the tarmac. I’ll develop these in cold water tomorrow to see what we have. Fingers crossed.

 

 

ps we didn’t pick the plants, but gently bent them and they sprang back afterwards. We disposed of the rubbish responsibly.

 

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